If you put a bounty on a question and the question fails to get new answers, the points attached to the bounty expire unused. It makes sense that the bounty points do not get "refunded" to you, but I think it would be a good idea to let users get "store credit" for them.

For example, if you put a 50-point bounty on a question, fail to get new answers eligible for a 50% auto-assignment, and let the bounty expire, you should be allowed to put a new bounty of higher-value on the same question, "paying" with a mix of the expired and new reputation points. You might put a 100-point bounty for additional 50 points, or a 250-point bounty for additional 200 points, et cetera; the other 50 points would come from the "store credit" based on the expired bounty.

The expired 50 points would remain attached to the question on which they were originally placed; they would not be transferable for use to set bounties on other questions.

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    Interesting, but too much trouble for its worth. – yannis Apr 20 '12 at 18:02
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    I'd need to hire a point accountant... – stslavik Apr 20 '12 at 18:03

This is an interesting idea, but bounties result in more views, which result in more votes. This could allow cheating the system — get 5+ votes from your first bounty and the next one is "free"!

It might be interesting to refund the bounty if the question gets:

  • No new votes during the bounty period
  • No new answers during the bounty period, and had no answers originally
  • No new comments during the bounty period

Effectively only views are affected in that case, and views aren't useful to the asker unless they result in something.

I don't know whether that happens commonly with bounties or would be worth the dev time, though. There's also the problem of someone doing this with a low-quality question that no one wants to spend time answering, or an obscure question that has no value to anyone else. Perhaps the extra attention would result in its closure, though.

I sort of agree with Diago and sort of not. No one's forced to look at the Bounties tab, it's similar to posting a real-life bounty poster. If no one claims the bounty then you don't pay it out.

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    I have to disagree. The bounty is no guarantee of anything. It's placing an advert in our local classifieds, in this case the featured tab, and as long as it appears there the transaction is complete. If you get no responses from it, well then you need to reanalyse how well you're asking your question, or it may very well be too localised. – BinaryMisfit Apr 20 '12 at 18:07
  • @Diago That's one analogy, the other is similar to a bounty poster as I noted. SE doesn't receive any money for bounties, not even rep points, so I think the classified ad analogy is less apt. – user154510 Apr 20 '12 at 18:09
  • Sadly it is the most apt way to explain it. Agreed SE doesn't receive any money for the bounties. They are simply providing a service. However sadly people expect SE to "refund" them for providing a service. I personally think bounties was not one of the better ideas, since most users see it as I will be guaranteed an answer and people will answer quickly and if they don't get it, they complain. However it's my opinion. – BinaryMisfit Apr 20 '12 at 18:11
  • I mostly agree with your list, but I think the presence or absence of prior answers should not be a factor (after all, you're assigning a bounty because you did not like the quality of these answers). Also new votes should not be considered when you put a bounty on someone else's question. – dasblinkenlight Apr 20 '12 at 18:17
  • @dasblinkenlight I mentioned prior answers because they can get new votes as well -- sometimes bounties are made to reward existing answers. And don't forget vote rings, this could possibly be a sneaky way to get around them, which would mean the same rules should apply for someone else's question as well. Then again maybe I'm too paranoid :P – user154510 Apr 20 '12 at 18:46

I think your missing the point of placing a bounty. It's to get attention for your question. It does not mean nor guarantee you will get a valid answer, and why must you get credit or a refund for a service rendered as advertised?

Honestly, do you get a refund when you place an ad in your local paper and no one responds? If you do, the newspaper is extremely sure that your ad would be read, or probably bankrupt by now.

You've paid for a service with your rep. SE showed the question on the featured tab. Service rendered.

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    I think you are missing the point of the solution that I proposed. The idea is not to get points back to you, but let you assign these points to someone who provides an answer. If I put another 50 points on a question after the expiration and get an answer in the second week, I'll be able to award only the 50 points from the second bounty to the answer. I think that an ability to give the expired points to the person who provides a valid answer would be a valid thing, that's all. – dasblinkenlight Apr 20 '12 at 18:09
  • @dasblinkenlight That's a really good point. Possibly invalidating my post :P – user154510 Apr 20 '12 at 18:11
  • @dasblinkenlight I don't agree. How is being able to allocate expired points to someone else not giving it back to you? You failed to select an answer, the system found an answer to allocate the bounty to automatically. Your failure to assign that bounty in the first place shouldn't be rewarded. It should actually be an indication to others that you can't be bothered to allocate the bounty, or post your own answer and invalidate it. – BinaryMisfit Apr 20 '12 at 18:13
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    @Diago "You failed to select an answer, the system found an answer to allocate the bounty to automatically." I specifically excluded the situation with auto-assignment: you're right, assigned bounties are gone, end of story! The situation I have in mind is when it does not make sense to award the bounty, because you did not get a single new answer. Currently, the system just drops the points into bit bucket; I think it would be nice to keep them in play to reward the person who takes his time to write an answer. – dasblinkenlight Apr 20 '12 at 18:22
  • @dasblinkenlight Actually, if the system couldn't allocate it, it's even worse. You are asking people to look at your question for more reputation, but haven't bothered to help them by keeping the question updated. A bounty means you have to do the work as well. Let's just agree to disagree on this. – BinaryMisfit Apr 20 '12 at 18:24
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    @Diago It may not be my question to edit. If you would like specifics, here is the question that gave me this idea. It is not my question, but it is very nicely worded, but lacks a conclusive answer. 7-day 50-point bounty failed to attract attention, so my thinking goes that perhaps a 150-point one would. – dasblinkenlight Apr 20 '12 at 18:28

There is another problem. Since bounties never exceed 500 rep, one can just reuse the 500 rep bounty until it the question is answered. I agree 500 rep is a lot, but for exposure until the question is answered in the featured tab it doesn't look like that much.

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  • What if an extension of that bounty isn't possible without losing the 'store credit'? Problem solved. – Patrick Hofman Sep 13 '15 at 11:17
  • @PatrickHofman I don't understand? Suppose I start a +500 bounty on an unanswered question. It expires without answer. Now I want to start a new bounty, but obviously the only available is 500. So I pay 500 expired points and 0 new. Thats the problem I state. – wythagoras Sep 13 '15 at 11:21
  • Then you are not allowed to reuse that reputation in that case. – Patrick Hofman Sep 13 '15 at 11:22
  • @PatrickHofman That would be a possible solution. – wythagoras Sep 13 '15 at 11:28

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